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Bay Area Standout: Marin
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Bay Area Standout: Marin

Situated across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Marin County offers a plethora of outdoor activities and gorgeous landscapes.

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4 min read

May 30, 2022

Positioned north of San Francisco, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin County offers a plethora of activities for every age and interest. From following the California Cheese Trail to savor the creations of artisan cheesemakers, to searching for creatures in tide pools along the two miles of pristine coastline at Agate Beach, to climbing Mount Livermore for panoramic views of the Bay Area, the county makes up for its small size with gorgeous landscapes and dynamic culture.

Admire the majesty of Muir Woods National Monument

Many visitors make Muir Woods National Monument their first stop after crossing the world-famous Golden Gate. With thousands of old-growth redwoods, miles of hiking trails, and Muir Beach tickling the tree trunks just outside the forest, it is easy to see why this is a favorite among both locals and tourists. The towering redwood trees in this park reach over 250 feet and some of them are up to 800 years old. A boardwalk takes you to Bohemian Grove, where you can find the park’s tallest trees.

Enjoy the Views and Hiking Trails of Point Reyes National Seashore

With a ton of attractions to enjoy, it’s no wonder Point Reyes National Seashore draws so many visitors.

Next, head over to Point Reyes National Seashore, a scenic stretch along the coastline of West Marin County, California. This 71,028-acre gem boasts organic dairy farms, sandy beaches, and idyllic views of the Pacific. Stop by the Point Reyes Headlands to view hundreds of elephant seals breached upon Drakes Beach. Make sure not to miss the intriguing geological formations on Chimney Rock and the historic Chimney Rock Lifeboat Station. You’ll also come across a variety of hiking trails such as the Bear Valley Trail as well as the trek to Alamere Falls.

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Indulge in the Local Delicacies of Marin County

Once you’ve worked up an appetite from all that hiking, indulge yourself in fresh oysters at one of the seafood spots of Marin County, CA. On the eastern shore of Tomales Bay, Nick’s Cove Restaurant & Oyster Bar offers their specialty Tomales Bay BBQ oyster garnished with mouthwatering garlic-parsley butter and homemade BBQ sauce. You can also find several picnic spots a short distance away at Samuel P. Taylor State Park and Hearts Desire State Beach. Tomales Bay Oyster Company offers fresh oysters to go, but your oyster picnic feast wouldn’t be complete without European and locally-made artisanal cheeses from Tomales Bay Foods and Cowgirl Creamery. Besides picnic areas, Samuel P. Taylor State Park also features several creekside campsites shaded by redwood trees, in addition to cabins available for rent.

Let your taste buds witness heaven by treating yourself to a plate of oysters fresh out of the sea.

Spend Time at One of Marin County’s Beaches

Another notable feature of Marin County’s natural landscape is the slew of stunning beaches. Located west of Highway 1 is Agate Beach in Marin,  a dog-friendly stretch of sand hiding beneath the cliffs. This coastal gem spans 6.6 acres with almost 2 miles of beach when the tides are low. It is also home to some of the best tide pools Marin has to offer, providing habitat to huge sea anemones. Another one of Marin County's most well-known beaches is Stinson, stretching across 3.5 miles of charming white sands. Here, you can spend your time gathering sand dollars as you watch surfers trying to catch a wave in the distance.

Discover the Coastal Gems of Sausalito

Just across the Golden State Bridge is the vibrant coastal town of Sausalito. Once a secluded Bohemian enclave, this coastal destination is currently home to a range of post-WW2 houseboats, beachside shops, and restaurants, as well as a constant wave of tourists. The true vibe of Sausalito reveals itself at some of the place’s oldest destinations. One notable spot is Trident, a seafood eatery sitting atop a tier. Formerly owned by the Kingston Trio, this gastronomic gem has attracted the likes of Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, and Jerry Garcia. You can’t leave the town without heading over to Fred’s Coffee Shop for some deep-fried French toast, a signature meal the restaurant has been serving since 1966. It would be a shame not to mention Sausalito’s No Name Bar, a popular destination since 1959 famous for its open-mic nights as well as the jazz and blues bands who perform there.

Take in the beauty of the Marin County Headlands

Gracing the Marin Headlands with sprawling meadows and vibrant wildflowers is the beautiful Hawk Hill.

Boasting idyllic views, verdant hillsides, and winding roads, the Marin County Headlands provide the perfect backdrop for an afternoon hike. Once home to the Miwok tribe, the headlands later housed American military fortifications. Several decommissioned military bunkers and batteries, such as a preserved SF-88 Nike Missile silo, still exist there to this day. If you’re visiting with your furry friend, make sure to spend some time at the dog-friendly Rodeo Beach located in the headlands. Nearby, Hawk Hill provides the perfect spot for spotting Mission blue butterflies. Eagles, osprey, vultures, and hawks circle the skies from August to December. The headlands are especially gorgeous during spring when the hills burst into life with a cornucopia of colorful wildflowers.

Take Photos of the Point Bonita Lighthouse and Nearby Attractions

To see what else the county has in store, travel north from Muir Woods to Point Bonita Lighthouse, the third lighthouse built in the West. A slightly rickety suspension bridge takes you to the still-active light. Continue on to Tomales Bay State Park for diverse landscapes featuring wildflower-coated meadows, shorebirds nestled amongst the tidal flats of the marshlands, chipmunks storing food beneath the forest floors, and beaches known for clamming.

Overlooking the waters of Marin County, Point Bonita Lighthouse is one of the oldest in California.

End Your Marin County Trip on a High Note

After enjoying the mist of the ocean breeze, drive east to the Waterfall Trail, which takes you across a wooden bridge into the forested regions and along a trickling stream to the unparalleled magic of mossy waterfalls. To immerse yourself in the culture of Marin County, head to the Downtown San Rafael Cultural Arts District, where you will encounter art galleries, bookstores, and performing art centers. Alternatively, you can opt to visit one of the many ranches and farmer's markets throughout the county. Before heading back over the Golden Gate, take some time to enjoy birdwatching at Alviso Marina County Park, a bike ride around Perimeter Road, a picnic at Ayala Cove, or kayaking in the San Francisco Bay.

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